Description: This question and answer book covers various aspects of normal and abnormal sleep that are of practical relevance.
Purpose: According to the introduction, it is "imperative for both the public and members of the health care profession to be aware of the importance of a good night's sleep and sleep problems." This statement is supported by facts and figures about the magnitude of sleep problems and of potentially serious consequences related to their underdiagnosis and undertreatment, as revealed in a 1993 report by the National Commission for Sleep Disorders.
Audience: Using a question and answer format, the author seeks to increase the awareness of the public, both lay and professional, about the importance of sleep and sleep problems. The author calls upon his expertise as a sleep medicine clinician and researcher in serving as the reader's consultant, carefully and clearly responding to questions covering the breadth of issues and problems dealt with by sleep specialists. He does an admirable job addressing his wide-ranging audience patients, would-be patients, and healthcare professionals.
Features: Questions range from normal sleep and sleep experiences through potentially medically serious disorders. Answers are concise, mostly a page or less, with annotated "sound bites" of 1-2 sentences in the margins to summarize and highlight the essence of the response. The response to the 100th item directs readers to resources for more information including organizations (lay and professional), books (written and edited by the author), and a Web site. There are no tables or figures, but a few strategically placed figures and/or tables may have been more useful than the marginal "sound bites". The few peccadillos I detected detract little from the overall quality, such as estrogen vs. progesterone in sleep apnea (Q.20, Q.90), ginkoba instead of ginkgo biloba (Q.95), and limitations of the index.
Assessment: This small, serious book on sleep can be read by patients as well as their doctors and other healthcare professionals. It is chock-full of important information written in well-defined terms to get points across in a user-friendly way. Using 100 questions, the author teaches readers that sleep/sleep behavior interacts with waking activity to influence how we feel and function; thus, sleep is an integral component of our 24-hour daily sleep-wake cycle. Hopefully, better informed patients will be directed to healthcare professionals who will better understand and manage their patients' sleep concerns.